People who relish donkey meat claim that the flesh of the beast of burden increases strength and virility. Donkey meat eaters take considerable pain to find the meat from illegal traders and then buy it at hefty prices often running into the thousands.
According to a cross-section of officials, while donkey milk has been popular for years, the popularity of donkey meat is a fairly recent phenomenon.
Sources inform that several criminal gangs jointly operate the donkey meat racket in Andhra Pradesh. While one gang handles procurement, another takes charge of slaughtering and selling the meat to a niche network of consumers.
Since donkeys have mostly disappeared from Andhra Pradesh, the animals have to be brought in from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka, says Gopal R Surabathula, secretary of Animal Rescue Org, an NGO based out of Kakinada, in a series of complaints to concerned authorities.
The NGO recently conducted surprise visits in places where donkey meat was sold and took photographs and videos to submit to authorities. On Monday, the NGO lodged a complaint with the West Godavari district administration regarding the illegal trade of donkey meat at Panduranga Road in Venavallivaripeta.
“The state government must protect the donkeys. Law enforcement must save the donkeys from ending up on our dinner plates. Otherwise, people will have to go to the zoo to see donkeys,” Surabathula said while adding that the sale of donkey hide fetches traders more money than meat or milk.
Speaking to TOI, joint director of animal husbandry in West Godavari G Nehru Babu said, “Slaughtering of donkeys is illegal. We will take serious action against people who indulge in the crime. Unnecessary misconceptions make people eat milk and meat of donkeys.” Guntur (urban) SP RN Ammi Reddy said, “We will check donkey meat trade and illegal slaughter in our district limits.”